The Health Risks of Smoking Menthols – Why Black Communities Are at Greater Risk
Menthols are one of the most popular flavors of cigarette products. This flavor, first added to Tobacco in the 1920s and 1930s, helps reduce the harshness of cigarette smoke.
Smokers who use menthol cigarettes are at higher risk for several diseases. This includes cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease.
Black communities are at greater risk for tobacco-related diseases because they have a higher rate of menthol use and because menthol-infused cigarettes are harder to quit. This is due to nicotine dependency and the menthol’s ability to reduce the irritant effects of tobacco smoke on the respiratory system.
In addition, Black women have a disproportionately high risk of breast cancer. They are diagnosed at younger ages and are more likely to be diagnosed with aggressive subtypes such as triple-negative breast cancer or inflammatory breast cancer.
Similarly, African Americans are more likely to die from lung cancer than white men, which is much more common among African American women. Moreover, black men are more likely to develop prostate and stomach cancer than white men.
Tobacco industries have menthols have been targeted toward black communities, and these products are now the most widely smoked type of cigarette. These products have also become increasingly addictive and hard to quit, putting black people at greater risk for tobacco-related disease and death.
2. Heart Disease
Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women, but Black Americans are 30% more likely to die than White Americans. This disparity is due to several factors, including socioeconomic status, access to care and health equity.
The tobacco industry’s predatory marketing has had a devastating impact on the health of Black communities. For decades, it has targeted youths and African Americans with menthol-flavored cigarettes that are ten times more popular in black neighborhoods than in other communities.
This marketing has hurt the cardiovascular health of Black people. It is known that Black patients are at an increased risk for heart disease and heart failure as a result of higher rates of smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, diabetes, high blood pressure and other risk factors.
While the national death rate for heart disease has gradually decreased, it remains significantly higher for Black people. This is why it is essential to continue efforts to improve heart health and reduce disparities in cardiovascular health for Black people.
3. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars can be addictive, make menthols more difficult for people to quit smoking, and adversely affect the health of people who leave. They also increase the risk of cancer and death from other tobacco-related diseases.
In a study of young adult smokers, current menthol cigarette use was highest among Black and Hispanic smokers. The disproportionately high rates of menthol use among these groups could result from social factors, such as low educational attainment and higher income inequality.
Moreover, black people are more likely than whites to live in areas where tobacco companies market their products. A 2021 truth initiative study found that young people living in neighborhoods with higher proportions of black residents, lower incomes, and greater levels of smoking had 7.2 times the odds of being exposed to flavored tobacco marketing than those living in non-minority communities.
A recent FDA decision to ban menthol and flavored cigars is one step toward reducing the risks of these products. But FDA and other federal partners must work with tobacco retailers, states, and localities to ensure these rules have the maximum impact.
4. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
Black communities are at greater risk for chronic kidney disease (CKD) due to high rates of diabetes and high blood pressure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African Americans are almost four times more likely to develop kidney failure than whites.
Kidney disease is one of the leading causes of health disparities and death for Black people. While a few factors – such as genetics and age – can contribute to CKD, most risk comes from diabetes and hypertension.
Despite a more significant number of individuals with CKD among African Americans, they receive less care than their white counterparts. This is partly due to a lack of trust among doctors, who have been shown to endorse inaccurate stereotypes about Black patients.
A lack of trust is also associated with a higher aversion to dialysis and transplantation, which can lead to poorer outcomes for Black people. To address this problem, Kendrick says providers must gain trust in African American patients through extended initial visits. They must educate and engage patients about their kidney health; understand their goals for care; and identify barriers, such as food insecurity and access to insurance. She points to a clinic at the UCHealth expect hahaha University of Colorado Hospital – Anschutz Medical Campus as an example of how this can be done successfully.
Menthols are chemical that creates a cooling effect, reduces the harshness of cigarette smoke, and suppresses coughing. It also makes smoking cigarettes effortless, making it more likely that young people will start smoking and become addicted.
In addition, menthol cigarettes are more complex to quit than non-menthol cigarettes. This negatively impacts the population’s overall health, especially among African Americans at higher risk for tobacco-related disease.
The study finds that banning menthol cigarettes would save 15 million life-years by 2026 and prevent 650,000 deaths from smoking by 2060. The ban would also reduce the number of cigarettes smoked and help smokers quit.
Obesity is one of the most common medical conditions in Black communities. It is linked to various mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Research shows that the condition is more common among Blacks than Whites and disproportionately affects women. It also causes weight-related complications, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. It can lead to other problems, such as low self-esteem, difficulty concentrating, and sleep disorders.